Newspaper Punished for Swipe at King

A local newspaper will be suspended for a week starting today for publishing an article calling for King Norodom Sihanouk to be tried for crimes against hu­manity, a Ministry of Informa­tion official said Monday.

“It is a scorning of His Ma­jesty,” Information Secretary of State Khieu Kanharith said of an article published by the Srorch Srang Cheat News (National Salvation News). “It says in the national Constitution that the King is unviolable.”

The edition, dated today but available on the newsstands Monday, said that the King should be the first person tried for the killing of nearly 2 million Cambodians during the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime.

“For justice, King Sihanouk must be tried together with Pol Pot,” the headline of the article said. The newspaper added that it had evidence to prove that the King is a criminal along with the late Pol Pot.

A UN team is arriving Saturday to assess evidence for a possible international tribunal.

Chhea Vari, the newspaper’s publisher, stood by the newspaper’s article Monday.

“I think that my article does not distort the truth at all be­cause what I have written was based on historical, substantial documents about the King’s involvement with the Pol Pot regime,” Chhea Vari said.

Then-Prince Sihanouk was brought back to Phnom Penh as nominal head of state shortly after the Khmer Rouge came to power in April 1975.

But he had no power in the re­gime and was kept under house arrest in the palace while the Khmer Rouge killed several of his children.

Khieu Kanharith said the Na­tional Salvation News had just started publishing. Chhea Vari couldn’t be reached later Mon­day to ask if the paper was aligned to a particular party or official.

Meanwhile, Khieu Kanharith said another local newspaper, Damneung Thmei (New News), has been warned after publishing a similar article last week.

 

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